01 February 2012

Game Review: Batman-Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this game before now. I guess I got caught up in Assassin's Creed land, and before long, I'd moved on to Dragon Age: Origins (and Alistair...sigh). Well, that changes now. Batman review is ON like Donkey Kong, y'all. As always, my game reviews are spoiler-free.

Here's the story:

Batman has caught Joker for the umpteenth time and is transporting him to Arkham Asylum. Everything's going great until *surprise* Joker busts free during transport. Now the Asylum is on lock down, and, as the Caped Crusader, you MUST catch Joker.

Seems simple, right?

Well, ladies and gentleman, I want you to feast your eyes on the first Batman game to actually do the comic book justice. This isn't 60s Batman. This isn't even Batman: The Animated Series Batman. This, folks, this glorious work of pixelation, is gritty, brutal, and absolutely one of the best Batman games ever created (the other one being its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, which I will try not to go all fangirl squee over next week).

Here's why this game rocks.

For the first time, you get to employ all of Batman's tricks: stealth, supreme (and incredibly fluid) fighting techniques, super awesome gadgets. This isn't just a platform jumper (I still have pretty fond memories of that impossible game on NES), and it isn't a poorly-written adaptation. This is Batman in all his glory.


The game play is absolutely some of the most solid I've experienced. It's rarely glitchy, and it tends to respond quite well to commands. Timing is a little tricky when you're going for a counter move, but other than that, it works out great.

As far as gadgets go, you have some fun ones in your arsenal. Obviously, you have the grappling gun (accessible with the RB button) and an endless supply of Batarangs. But there's oh-so-very-much more to help you take down the baddies. There's the sonic Batarang, explosive gel, a remote control Batarang (which saved my butt way more times than I care to count), a line-launcher thing, and a whole lot more, all of which is accessed by the D-pad. There's also the ability to use your Batarang in combat, but that was a little tricky for me as well since in the eat of battle I tend to forget to "lightly tap" the R-trigger. This got me killed pretty often.

There's also a nifty little thing called "detective mode" which Batman uses to track and trace different kinds of evidence. Detective mode will also tell you how many enemies are in a certain area and how many of them are armed. It's an incredibly handy combat tool. This helped me avoid getting killed pretty often.


There's not much of one, really. This game goes the way of Assassin's Creed in that it seldom uses music. Unless you're in a battle or something, you're more apt to hear conversations between thugs or, if you're in the medical center, really, really creepy voice overs.

Actually, the voice acting is superb. Kevin Conroy has been voicing Batman since 1993. Mark Hamil has been voicing Joker since 1993. Obviously these two actors have a long history together, and it shows quite well in the banter. Their timing with each other is so so good. Really makes you feel like these two have antagonized each other for years.


Holy s***. I was blown away by how good this game looks. There's a lot of texture, a lot of grime and grit. It's a dark game, both in content and lighting, which certainly fits the feel of the game. I tended to spend a lot of time in detective mode so I didn't die. Honestly, it was kinda weird to see the actual surroundings rather than the blue of detective mode...but that's just me. I'm not a proficient gamer, regardless of my experience. Having detective mode helped.


Riddler's Riddles--This is a fun/obnoxious way to pass the time if you don't want to go in for the final showdown (or heck, you can do it afterward, too, I think). Our favorite riddle-obsessed criminal Edward Nigma has planted a ridiculous amount of trophies and riddles throughout Arkham Island to attempt to baffle Batman (puh-leeze). They're worth getting, especially if you're an obsessive type who can't help but get EVERYTHING in a game *looking at you, Lisa*. Riddler has managed to hack into Batman's Comm-link with Oracle, and every-so-often he taunts you. Honestly, it's worth getting all those stupid trophies just to shut him up.


Overall, this game is AH-MAZING. I was in awe of it my first playthrough, but the subsequent ones (plural, yes) have proven over and over that this is an incredible game that will stand the test of time. If you're any kind of Batman fan--hardcore, comic junkie, or casual lover of the movies and animated series (like me), you ought--nay, NEED!--to get this game!


M. Dunham said...

My fiancee got this game for Christmas, and I agree with your points on the graphics and gameplay. Holy cow, this game is smoooooth. I watched him play for a bit, and got so into the story I was disappointed when he had to put it down!

Any comments on the gameply if you go as catwoman?

Eliza Tilton said...

ahhh, yea. I planned on renting it instead of buying. Between, Soul caliber (just got today) Reckoning (so psyched) and Mass Effect 3, I'm going to be broke!

lexcade said...

I. Love. This. Game.

Marisol, I haven't played as Catwoman because I don't have Xbox Live to redeem the code. Yet. I will, though, and as soon as I do, you will have my full report.

Eliza, I lucked up and got both batmans for some random holiday *I think they were each Christmas presents in separate years*. This ranks right up there with Assassin's Creed for me. These games are amazing, well worth the insane amount of time you'll spend playing them, and GORGEOUS. This is what a Batman game is supposed to be. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.

And sadly, Arkham City is even better than this one. That review will be up next week.